Canadian-born singer and songwriter Paul Anka had his first hit record, “Diana,” in 1957 when he was only fifteen years old. His was no one-shot teen novelty recording, either—Anka followed “Diana” with a string of hits that lasted into the early 1960s. When his popularity on the United States rock and roll scene faded, he began to aim his music at older, non-rock audiences and at his European and Asian fans, by whom he was greatly celebrated. A prolific writer, Anka also penned many hits for other recording artists, including Buddy Holly and Tom Jones, and he is responsible for the ballad standard “My Way,” a huge success for both Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. In 1974 Anka scored a triumphant pop comeback with “You’re Having My Baby” and has since pursued fame with other hits, including “I Don’t Like to Sleep Alone,” “There’s Nothing Stronger Than Our Love,” and “The Times of Your Life.”
Anka was born July 30, 1941, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. His parents were immigrants from Lebanon who owned a successful restaurant frequented by Ottawa’s show people. As a small child, Anka delighted in imitating popular singers and performing for neighborhood housewives, paperboys, and sanitation workers. He soon learned a little piano and taught himself how to play the guitar. Anka was generally uninspired by school, except for writing classes, and once intended to become either an actor or a writer, but the allure of music gradually swayed him from these early ambitions. When rock and roll began to flood the music world, Anka was only in his teens but nonetheless was convinced that he could create songs just as good, if not better, than the ones he was hearing on the radio. He began to compose, taking inspiration from Arabic chant melodies that his parents had brought with them from Lebanon and from the rhyming schemes of poet and playwright William Shakespeare.
Anka also formed a vocal trio called the Bobbysoxers with some friends; they played at local dances and at the Central Canada Exhibition of 1955. He also won a competition at the Fairmount Club in Ottawa, receiving as his prize a week’s engagement at the club. Anka took his earnings from this and traveled to Los Angeles, California, in hopes that his uncle, Maurice Anka, a nightclub entertainer, could help him get his music published. Though a recording company there bought one of his songs, it didn’t sell, and Anka had to work as a movie usher to earn his way back home to Ottawa.
In 1957, however, when Anka borrowed money from his father to go to New York City in hopes of publishing his music, he scored a resounding success. The fifteen-year-old performed a song he had written about his unrequited love for a girl three years older than himself,
Full name, Paul Albert Anka; born July 30, 1941, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; son of Andrew and Camilia (Tannis) Anka (owners of a restaurant); married Anne de Zogheb (a fashion model), February 16, 1963; children: five daughters. Religion: Syrian Orthodox.
Singer and composer with vocal trio the Bobbysoxers, beginning 1955; moved to Los Angeles, Calif., c. 1956, and tried to establish himself as a songwriter; sold one song and worked as a theater usher to earn enough money to return home to Canada; moved to New York City, 1957, and signed a contract with ABC Paramount to record his first hit, “Diana.” Has appeared in a number of films, including “Girls Town,” 1959, “The Private Lives of Adam and Eve,” 1960, “Look in Any Window,” 1960, and “The Longest Day,” 1962. Host of his own syndicated television variety show, 1973.
Diana Ayoub, for the executives of ABC Paramount. The recording company was so excited by what they heard that, presumably because Anka was a minor, they asked his father to come to New York as soon as possible to sign a contract.
Anka’s song, “Diana,” was an enormous hit and sold over 8, 500, 000 copies, making it the second best-selling record ever, after crooner Bing Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas.” Anka followed “Diana” with many other records that were snapped up by teenagers, including “You Are My Destiny” in 1958, “Lonely Boy” and “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” in 1959, and “Puppy Love,” about his then steady date, actress Annette Funicello, in 1960. Anka also traveled across the United States and Canada with rock and roll acts like Buddy Holly, for whom he wrote “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers, and Fats Domino. And, as part of being considered a teen idol, he was persuaded by his manager to have plastic surgery on his nose, lost weight, and appeared in the films “Girls Town,” “The Private Lives of Adam and Eve,” and “Look in Any Window.” Anka received little if any praise for his acting in these vehicles but fared better with critics in the 1962 film “The Longest Day,” for which he also composed the music.
When the advent of British groups like the Beatles caused Anka’s popularity with American teenagers to wane, he began to concentrate on adult nightclub audiences, such as those who frequented New York City’s Copacabana, Los Angeles, California’s, Coconut Grove, and Las Vegas, Nevada’s, Sahara. He toured Europe with great success, and focused more on his songwriting abilities. “I like to have four or five songs going at once,” Anka explained to a writer for Time magazine. Among the hits he has composed for other artists, in addition to the stunning “My Way,” is “She’s a Lady,” recorded by Welsh singer Tom Jones. Anka also wrote the theme for Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.”
But in 1974, Anka came back with a controversial hit of his own, “You’re Having My Baby.” Inspired by the childbearing experiences he shared with his wife, Ann de Zogheb, “Baby” includes the passage, as quoted by Time, ’” Didn’t have to keep it/Wouldn’t put you through it/You could have swept it from your life/But you wouldn’t do it, ’” that caused “both right-to-life and pro-abortion groups” to protest the song. “So did feminists,” continued Time, “although Baby is rare among macho pop songs in that it acknowledges a woman’s autonomy.” Maureen Orth, commenting in Newsweek, labeled the song a “musical miscarriage” but quoted Anka’s response to charges of sexism: “I can’t hand out a pamphlet every time I write a song.” Anka has since had other pop successes, including the mellow “The Times of Your Life,” which began as a commercial jingle for Kodak film.
Major single releases
“Diana,” ABC, 1957.
“I Love You, Baby,” ABC, 1957.
“You Are My Destiny,” ABC, 1958.
“Crazy Love,” ABC, 1958.
“Let the Bells Keep Ringing,” ABC, 1958.
“Midnight,” ABC, 1958.
“Just Young,” ABC, 1958.
“All of a Sudden My Heart Sings,” ABC, 1958.
“I Miss You So,” ABC, 1959.
“Lonely Boy,” ABC, 1959.
“Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” ABC, 1959.
“It’s Time to Cry,” ABC, 1959.
“Puppy Love,” ABC, 1960.
“My Home Town,” ABC, 1960.
“Something Happened,” ABC, 1960.
“Hello, Young Lovers,” ABC, 1960.
“I Love You in the Same Old Way,” ABC, 1960.
“Summer’s Gone,” ABC, 1960.
“The Story of My Love,” ABC, 1961.
“Tonight, My Love, Tonight,” ABC, 1961.
“Dance On, Little Girl,” ABC, 1961.
“Kissin’ on the Phone,” ABC, 1961.
“Cinderella,” ABC, 1961.
“Love Me Warm and Tender,” RCA, 1962.
“A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine,” RCA, 1962.
“Every Night,” RCA, 1962.
“Eso Beso,” RCA, 1962.
“Love Makes the World Go ’Round,” RCA, 1963.
“Remember Diana,” RCA, 1963.
“Hello, Jim,” RCA, 1963.
“Did You Have a Happy Birthday?” RCA, 1963.
Paul Anka (includes “Do I Love You”), Buddah, 1971.
Jubilation, Buddah, 1972.
Anka (includes “You’re Having My Baby” and “One Man Woman—One Woman Man”), United Artists, 1974.
Feelings (includes “I Don’t Like to Sleep Alone” and “There’s Nothing Stronger Than Our Love”), United Artists, 1975.
Times of Your Life, United Artists, 1975.
The Painter, United Artists, 1976.
The Music Man (includes “Everybody Ought to Be in Love”), United Artists, 1977.
House and Garden, September, 1984.
Newsweek, February 24, 1975.
Time, December 8, 1975.
Anka, Paul 1941–
ANKA, Paul 1941–
Full name, Paul Albert Anka; born July 30, 1941, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; son of Andrew Emile, Sr. (a music executive) and Margaret (some sources say Camilia; maiden name, Tannis) Anka; married Anne Alison DeZogheb (a model), February 16, 1963 (divorced, October 2000); children: Alexandra, Amanda (an actress), Alicia, Anthea, and Amelia. Religion: Syrian Orthodox.
Career: Singer, composer, producer, and actor. Bobbysoxers (vocal trio), singer and composer, c. 1955; worked as songwriter in Los Angeles, CA, 1956; ABC Paramount, recording artist, 1957–61; RCA, recording artist, 1962–?; performed on nightclub circuit, c. 1963—; Buddah, recording artist, 1971–72; United Artists, recording artist, 1974–77. Ottawa Senators (National Hockey League team), co–owner, c. 1991.
Member: Broadcast Music, Inc., Friars (New York City; herald).
Awards, Honors: St. Johns University, honorary doctorate, 1981.
Himself, Let's Rock (also known as Keep It Cool), Columbia, 1958.
Jimmy Parlow, Girls Town (also known as The Innocent and the Damned), Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1959.
Craig Fowler, Look in Any Window, Allied Artists Pictures, 1961.
Pinkie Parker, The Private Lives of Adam and Eve, Universal International Pictures, 1961.
U.S. Army ranger, The Longest Day, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1962.
Himself, Lonely Boy, 1962.
Best of Bandstand (also known as Dick Clark's Best of Bandstand), 1986.
Himself, Iskelmaeprinssi, 1991.
Donaldson, Captain Ron, Buena Vista, 1992.
Joey Dean, Ordinary Magic, 1993.
Himself, Mr. Payback: An Interactive Movie, 1995.
Danny Marks, Mad Dog Time (also known as Trigger Happy), United Artists, 1996.
Pit boss #1, 3000 Miles to Graceland, Warner Bros., 2001.
Television Appearances; Series:
Host, The Paul Anka Show, 1982.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Nick Angel, Perry Mason: The Case of the Maligned Mobster (also known as The Case of the Maligned Mobster), NBC, 1991.
Shake, Rattle and Rock!, Showtime, 1994.
Television Appearances; Specials:
The Tom Jones Special, ABC, 1971.
Host, Happy Birthday, America, NBC, 1976.
Paul Anka ... Music My Way, ABC, 1977.
Lindsay Wagner: Another Side of Me, ABC, 1977.
Bing! A 50th Anniversary Gala, CBS, 1977.
Host, Paul Anka in Monte Carlo, CBS, 1978.
Himself, Cinderella at the Palace, CBS, 1978.
Las Vegas: Palace of Stars, CBS, 1979.
Host, CBS' Happy New Year America 1979, CBS, 1979.
Sinatra: The First 40 Years, NBC, 1980.
Himself, Lily: Sold Out, CBS, 1981.
Host, "Episode 2: The Teen Idol Years 1959–63," The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll (documentary), 1981.
The All–Star Salute to Ford's Theatre, CBS, 1986.
The 75th Anniversary of Beverly Hills, ABC, 1989.
Candid Camera ... Funny Money, CBS, 1990.
Voices That Care, Fox, 1991.
Holiday Greetings from the Ed Sullivan Show, CBS, 1992.
Concert of the Americas, PBS, 1994.
American Bandstand's No. 1 Hits, NBC, 1994.
Television's Greatest Performances, ABC, 1995.
Paul Anka: Night of a Lifetime, PBS, 2000.
Himself, AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Songs (also known as AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Songs: America's Greatest Music in the Movies), 2004.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
American Bandstand, 1957, 1981, 1983.
The Ed Sullivan Show, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1969.
The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show, 1958, 1959, 1960.
Himself, The Perry Como Show, NBC, 1958.
"The Satchel Man," Dan Raven, 1960.
Mystery guest, What's My Line?, CBS, 1962, 1964, 1965.
Himself, I've Got a Secret, CBS, 1962.
Panelist, Password, CBS, 1963, 1964.
Host, Hullabaloo, NBC, 1965, 1966.
Himself, The Dean Martin Show, NBC, 1966.
The Hollywood Palace, 1966.
Kraft Music Hall, 1968.
Himself, This Is Tom Jones, ABC, 1969.
The Music Scene, 1969.
Himself, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, NBC, 1969, 1970.
Himself, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, 1971.
The Midnight Special, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976.
Buddy Maus, "The Betrayal," Kojak, CBS, 1974.
Vic Madison, "Dirty Laundry," The Fall Guy, ABC, 1983.
Anthony "Tony" Dio, "Top of the World," Crime Story, NBC, 1987.
Voice of himself, "Treehouse of Horror VI," The Simpsons (animated), Fox, 1995.
Himself, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1996.
Himself, "Red's Last Day," That '70s Show, Fox, 1999.
Himself, Larry King Live, CNN, 2000.
Himself, "Destiny: The Life and Times of Paul Anka," Life and Times, CBC, 2003.
Himself, American Idol: The Search for a Superstar, Fox, 2003, 2004.
Himself, "Things That Go Jump in the Night," Las Vegas, NBC, 2004.
Guest, Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 2004.
Television Work; Specials:
Executive producer, Paul Anka: Night of a Lifetime, PBS, 2000.
Sammy Glick, What Makes Sammy Run?, 54th Street Theatre, New York City, 1964.
Paul Anka, Uris Theatre, New York City, 1976.
"Diana," ABC, 1957.
"I Love You, Baby," ABC, 1957.
"You Are My Destiny," ABC, 1958.
"Crazy Love," ABC, 1958.
"Let the Bells Keep Ringing," ABC, 1958.
"Midnight," ABC, 1958.
"Just Young," ABC, 1958.
"All of a Sudden My Heart Sings," ABC, 1958.
"I Miss You So," ABC, 1959.
"Lonely Boy," ABC, 1959.
"Put Your Head on My Shoulder," ABC, 1959.
"It's Time to Cry," ABC, 1959.
"Puppy Love," ABC, 1960.
"My Home Town," ABC, 1960.
"Something Happened," ABC, 1960.
"Hello, Young Lovers," ABC, 1960.
"I Love You in the Same Old Way," ABC, 1960.
"Summer's Gone," ABC, 1960.
"The Story of My Love," ABC, 1961.
"Tonight, My Love, Tonight," ABC, 1961.
"Dance On, Little Girl," ABC, 1961.
"Kissin' on the Phone," ABC, 1961.
"Cinderella," ABC, 1961.
"Love Me Warm and Tender," RCA, 1962.
"A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine," RCA, 1962.
"Every Night," RCA, 1962.
"Eso Beso," RCA, 1962.
"Love Makes the World Go 'Round," RCA, 1963.
"Remember Diana," RCA, 1963.
"Hello, Jim," RCA, 1963.
"Did You Have a Happy Birthday," RCA, 1963.
Paul Anka, 1958.
My Heart Sings, 1959.
Swings for Young Lovers, 1960.
At the Copa, 1960.
It's Christmas Everywhere, 1960.
Instrumental Hits, 1961.
Young, Alive and in Love, 1962.
Let's Sit This One Out, 1962.
Our Man Around the World, 1963.
Songs I Wish I'd Written, 1963.
Excitement on Park Avenue, 1964.
Strictly Nashville, 1965.
Goodnight My Love, 1969.
Life Goes On, 1969.
Paul Anka in the '70s, 1970.
Paul Anka, Buddah, 1971.
Jubilation, Buddah, 1972.
Anka, United Artists, 1974.
Feelings, United Artists, 1975.
Time of Your Life, United Artists, 1975.
The Painter, United Artists, 1976.
The Music Man, United Artists, 1977.
Listen to Your Heart, 1978.
Both Sides of Love, 1981.
Walk a Fine Line, 1983.
Faibles femmes (also known as Le donne sono deboli, Three Murderesses, and Women Are Weak), National Trade Associates, 1959.
Girls Town (also known as The Innocent and the Damned), Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1959.
(Title song) Look in Any Window, Allied Artists Pictures, 1961.
A ritmo de twist, 1962.
(Theme) The Longest Day, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1962.
(With Burt Bacharach) Together?, 1979.
Television Songs; Series:
"Johnny's theme," The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (also known as The Best of Carson), NBC, 1962.
Television Songs; Specials:
George and the Christmas Star, 1985.
Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Schirmer, 2001.
Contemporary Musicians, Volume 2, Gale Research, 1989.
Maclean's, October 14, 2002, p. 66.
Saturday Night, December, 1994, p. 133.
Anka, Paul, late 1950s teen star who later made it big as a pop singer/composer; b. Ottawa, Can., July 30, 1941. One of the more sophisticated performers and songwriters to come out of the 1950s, Paul Anka scored a number of hits with his own compositions while still a teenager, beginning with 1957’s “Diana.” He ultimately sold more than 100 million records and, like a number of teen idols, quickly switched his attention to the nightclub and cabaret circuit. He subsequently pursued a career as a songwriter, composing over 400 songs, including the English lyrics to “My Way,” adopted by Frank Sinatra as his theme song, and “The Tonight Show Theme.” During the mid 1970s, Anka relocated to Las Vegas and enjoyed renewed popularity with several huge pop and easy-listening hits.
Raised in Canada, Paul Anka first performed in public at the age of 12. Traveling to Hollywood in 1956, he recorded his first—albeit unsuccessful—single, “I Confess” for Modern/RPM Records. In the spring of 1957, at the age of 15, Anka auditioned a song for Don Costa of ABC- Paramount Records in N.Y. that would become one of the biggest selling singles of the 1950s: “Diana.” Signed to the label, Anka hit the pop charts consistently over the next three years with compositions that often reflected the simple, even naive, but nonetheless poignant concerns of teenagers. His best-remembered smash hits of the period include “You Are My Destiny,” “Lonely Boy” (also a smash R&B hit), “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” “Puppy Love,” and “My Home Town.”
Paul Anka first performed in Las Vegas in 1959 and became the youngest performer to star at N.Y.’s Copa-cabana nightclub in 1960. He also appeared in several movies, most notably 1962’s The Longest Day (for which he also wrote the theme song), and switched to RCA Records by the beginning of 1962. No longer making the charts after 1963, Anka continued to perform on the nightclub circuit, including lucrative engagements in Las Vegas. Having written songs for others beginning in 1958 with “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” for Buddy Holly, Anka concentrated on his songwriting. Subsequently, his “Tonight Show Theme” became one of his most profitable compositions; yet his English lyrics to the French ballad “Comme d’Habitude”—under the new name, “My Way”—in 1969 became perhaps his best-known song and Frank Sinatra’s theme song. An-ka’s “She’s a Lady” became a smash hit for Tom Jones in 1971.
Paul Anka re-established himself as a recording artist in 1974-75 on United Artists Records beginning with the top hit “(You’re) Having My Baby,” recorded with Odia Coates, with whom he toured for several years. Other near-smash hits of the era included “One Man Woman/One Woman Man” (with Coates), “I Don’t Like to Sleep Alone,” and “Times of Your Life,” a top easy-listening hit. Following this brief flourish, Anka continued to write, record, tour, and appear in an occasional television show or movie.
Paul Anka (1958); My Heart Sings (1959); Swings for Young Lovers (1960); At the Copa (1960); It’s Christmas Everywhere (1960); Instrumental Hits (1961); Diana (1962); Young, Alive and in Love (1962); Let’s Sit this One Out (1962); Our Man around the World (1963); Italiano (1963); Songs I Wish I’d Written (1963); Excitement on Park Avenue (1964); Strictly Nashville (1965); Live (1967); Goodnight My Love (1969); Sincerely (1969); Life Goes On (1969); Paul Anka in the 70s (1970); Paul Anka (1971); Jubilation (1972); Anka (1974); Feelings (1975); Times of Your Lives (1975); Live (1975); The Painter (1976); The Music Man (1977); Listen to Your Heart (1978); Headlines (1979); Both Sides of Love (1981); Walk a Fine Line (1983); Live (1984).